The side effects of different birth control methods and medicines are a valid concern in deciding which methods to use. Hormonal contraceptives such as birth control pills, patches, shots, rings, and implants that release progestin and estrogen into the body have side effects, mostly minor, although there are some rare serious side effects that one should be aware of. Some women cannot use the traditional birth control pill because of risk factors which interact with the contraceptive to produce serious side effects or reduce effectiveness.
Side Effects of the Pill
Side effects of birth control pills which are not serious generally subside after about 3 months of use. These side effects include most often nausea and vomiting, but also possibly include weight gain, headaches, and bleeding irregularities such as spotting between periods or breakthrough bleeding. Women who get migraines may notice an increased frequency of the migraines. Sore, swollen, and tender breasts can be a side effect of hormonal forms of contraception. Use of the pill can also cause mood changes such as depression and mood swings. Some of these side effects can be reduced by using lower dose birth control pills or mini-pills. Mini-pills are birth control pills containing only progestin.
Conditions Affecting Use of Birth Control Pills
Some conditions can cause severe side effects, and women with these risk factors should choose a different form of contraception than hormonal contraceptives. Women over 35 years of age who smoke, or have breast cancer or uterine cancer, or a history of blood clots, should not take any of the hormonal birth control methods, including the Pill. These factors can increase the risk of serious side effects of the hormonal birth control such as increased blood pressure, blood clots, heart attacks and strokes.
Problems Involving Pregnancy
Use of birth control carries with it the risk that the woman may for some reason or other fail to use it correctly and become pregnant. If she finds out she is pregnant, she should discontinue use of the birth control pill. The prolonged exposure to potent estrogens in birth control pills could cause serious health problems to both mother and child. Not only miscarriage can result, but also some forms of cancer. Also, with some of the non-hormone birth control methods such as sterilization and intrauterine devices, there is an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy, which can be life-threatening for the woman.
Side Effects of Non-Hormonal Birth Control
Besides unwanted or ectopic pregnancies, other forms of birth control can have side effects. For example, use of an intrauterine device, or IUD, could cause lower abdominal pain, fever, bad smelling heavy discharge, or vomiting, and the woman using an IUD who experiences these symptoms should see her doctor. Toxic shock syndrome can be a serious consequence of using the IUD.
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